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La Liga: Top-4 Hopes Take a Hit after Atletico Madrid are Held 1-1 at Atheltic Bilbao

Atletico Madrid and Athletic Bilbao (Photo Credit: Twitter)

Atletico Madrid and Athletic Bilbao (Photo Credit: Twitter)

Iker Muniain scored for Athletic Bilbao as Diego Costa equalised for Atletico Madrid on their La Liga return.

Atletico Madrid drew 1-1 at Athletic Bilbao on Sunday on their return to action after La Liga's three-month hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic, missing out on the chance to capitalise on slip-ups by their rivals for Champions League places.

Iker Muniain gave Athletic the lead in an empty San Mames stadium by prodding home in the 37th minute to complete a clever move but Atletico responded two minutes later when Diego Costa slotted in following a through ball from Koke.

It was Costa's first goal since October and he celebrated by holding up the shirt of Virgina Torrecilla, a player from Atletico's women's team, who underwent surgery on a brain tumour last month.

Diego Simeone's Atletico side had the best chance to win the game after the interval when Athletic goalkeeper Unai Simon parried a cross from Renan Lodi into the path of Santiago Arias but the keeper recovered to block the rebound with his leg.

Atletico are sixth on 46 points, level with fifth-placed Getafe, who lost at Granada on Friday, and fourth-placed Real Sociedad, who host Osasuna later on Sunday. Athletic are 10th on 38.

"We're not in the worst situation as this was our first game back and Athletic are a difficult side but we cannot afford to slip up again if we want to get into the Champions League," said Atletico midfielder Koke.

"It's strange to come to a place like San Mames which is usually spectacular and which lives for football and to have no fans but we hope we can get back to normality soon."

Atletico have been among the worst-hit Spanish teams financially by the coronavirus pandemic and reports in Spain this week have suggested the club would stand to lose around 100 million euros if they fail to qualify for next season's Champions League.

They are still favourites to pip Real Sociedad, Getafe and Valencia to fourth place but their away form is a concern, with this their fifth league game in a row on the road without a victory.

(With inputs from Agencies)